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Below is our most recent newsletter

  March 18, 2020  
  Since our last newsletter on March 1st, many things have changed around the world due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). With so much at risk but so much unknown, it’s easy to understand why people are overwhelmed.

They’re overwhelmed by the amount of changing information on what seems like (and really is!) an hourly basis, overwhelmed by the scope and severity of the problem, and overwhelmed by the effects it is having on each of us directly and indirectly on very personal levels when our lives come to a screeching halt and people we care about are vulnerable.

It is easy to see how anxiety and stress emerge as our individual circumstances change in ways we never thought they would. It is this strong undercurrent of uncertainty, what I write and talk about most often as the ‘ambiguities of life,’ that fuels and maintains the anxiety and stress most of us are experiencing.

In light of these times when so much seems out of our control, we want to share some information and perspective that focuses on what we can control.  I have often said that ‘what we focus on we amplify.’  This newsletter is intended to focus on and amplify the positive shifts we can make in our behavior and perspectives during these times when the world conditions around us seem entirely negative.

We hope you will all stay safe and healthy wherever you are in this world.

 Diane & Michael  

Social Distancing and Hand-Washing: Being A Proactive Responsible Person

 Hand wash image from rf123 35292931_s.jpg
Photo Copyright: Asiln Image ID 35292931

We will leave the medical information and advice about the virus to the medical experts, especially since it’s ever changing.

It is human nature to ‘react’ to situations that have already occurred rather than to be proactive in engaging in decisions and behaviors that could prevent undesirable outcomes.   In light of the current situation, there are two specific suggestions that have been offered by the experts that are the PROACTIVE behaviors you can control: “Social Distancing”  and “Hand Washing.”

You don’t need to have this mandated by a government to engage in these behaviors. You need only to understand their purpose and how the virus spreads to realize this is a proactive behavior that will save lives. As such, this is the behavior we should all be engaging in as responsible human beings.

The term “Social Distancing” has become commonplace and it relates to having a distance between you and another person of at least 6 feet when you must be near people.  The more extreme form of this is “Social Isolation” where you shelter in your home except for when you must leave to get groceries or medications or if there is an emergency.  Mandatory isolation has been called for the whole of Italy, and for the Bay Area in California (e.g. San Francisco).  Other places have similar measures in place or else are planning to put them in place shortly.

The point is that people can carry the virus for many days before they may show symptoms. During that time they are potentially infecting others they come into contact with. Age doesn’t matter, ethnicity doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter, as anyone can carry the virus and spread it to another person unknowingly.

The other important proactive behavior that you can control is washing your hands often with warm/hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. There have been many creative ways people have been determining the 20 seconds but the standard seems to be to sing “Happy Birthday” twice and you’ve got your 20 seconds!

The main reason for these proactive behaviors is to reduce the spread of this unique virus in order to “flatten the curve.” This is a term that has emerged to address what happens if everyone gets sick at once and then overwhelm our health care system to the point of not being able to adequately care for people whether with the virus or some other medial condition or emergency. By being proactive and conscientious, the virus will affect fewer people over a longer period of time, flattening the curve of diagnosed cases. No matter what country you live in this applies to all of us.


Working with clients remotely:

Many of our newsletter readers are clinicians and this information will hopefully be useful for you. But if you’re a client, or someone who seeks help from a clinician, you may want to initiate a discussion with your clinician about moving your sessions to Telehealth.

Telehealth is a term used to address phone and online services in health care.
To the surprise of many clinicians who think therapist and client need to be in the same room together, research over the past 5 years or made that idea obsolete. Studies of telehealth success rates have consistently supported this format of health care.

Now may be a good time to explore Telehealth. Medicare has led the way with expanding coverage for telehealth in the United States and other insurances will naturally follow. If nothing else, learning about these options and being prepared if you’re not already considering this voluntary shift in client care is a good idea.

Below are some HIPAA Compliant (confidential) Virtual Platforms for you to explore. Other platforms that people are more familiar with like SKYPE and ZOOM offer HIPAA complaint versions or can be made to be HIPAA compliant but you must speak to them directly to obtain information about those versions and their pricing.


PERSPECTIVES – What You Can Control

Finding your Pearl in the Oyster…

Pearl in the Oyster IMG_1565.jpg Photo by Diane Yapko 

We may not have control over a world wide virus, but we do have a greater degree of control over our behavior and our thoughts than we might realize.

So, here are a few things to consider doing and some perspectives you might choose to take:

Exercise – we know that exercise is essential for good health, both physical and emotional. We’ve recently seen an  uplifting story on the news about how people in Spain that are quarantined are accomplishing this goal.

Exercise alone if you’re able to motivate yourself, use a YouTube video to get a structured session, find an online yoga class or exercise routine, or go for a walk (in a natural context, not around others).

Do That Thing You’ve Always Wanted to Do – being at home does not have to be boring. It’s your perspective about being at home that you can control.

How many times have you said, “I wish I had the time to…”
Well, now could be “the time.”

Here are just a few examples from the mundane to the intellectually stimulating:

Clean out/organize  closets and/or drawers
Organize your photos
Go through your e-mails and throw out all those old ones
Clean up all those apps and folders sitting on your mobile devices or computers
Binge watch a favorite show
Catch up on movies
Read a book
Write a book
Learn a language
Take an online course in a topic of interest to you
Develop a new skill
Pick up that musical instrument you’ve had at home and play
Call people you haven’t talked to in a long time
Start a gratitude journal for those things you’re grateful for during these hard times
Reach out to others online – join a virtual book club or simply connect with friends for a virtual cup of coffee

What to do with kids at home:
First and foremost, kids often do best with routines and schedules. If they are now home, and not in school, parents will need to create that structure.

Make calendars, make daily schedules, have kids participate in making these so they are invested in the process.  Having worked with children on the autism spectrum for many years, I’ve made more schedules than I can count. But for those of you less likely to create your own schedules, you may find some of these charts helpful:

Customizable routine charts 
Printable Charts from Priceless Parenting
Printable Daily Schedules on Pinterest

You can do an online search for many more ideas and articles about what to do with kids at home but here’s a start to generating some ideas:

Create a scavenger hunt around the house
Teach organizational skills by helping kids organize their rooms
Learn a new skill together online
Cook together, bake together, use the time to connect and teach concepts
Craft time -the ideas here are endless with lots of ideas in online searches “crafts for kids”
Color together or encourage independent time to then share what has been done.
Create a story or a photo album about their lives
Remember kids (and many adults too) do best with structure. If you want them to engage in an activity for a period of time (so you can get something done), then  use a timers or clock  to help kids understand how long they will engage in a particular activity.
Play cards
Play word games
Play board games
Make a board game
Plant a garden, even in small pots indoors
Write a letter, draw a picture to send to a grandparent or family friend
Listen to music



An Invaluable Resource for Kids (and adults, too!)

Imaginaction Screen Shot.png

We are so very excited to share with you what our good friend and colleague, pediatric psychologist Dr. Jody Thomas and her team has created for the Stanford University School of Medicine. It’s a website designed primarily that interfaces with smart phones and tablets called Imaginaction.

In these uncertain times, dealing with ambiguity and all we can’t control, Dr. Thomas and her group have created a hypnosis based program teaching kids how to use ‘their imagination’ to get some control over their thoughts, feelings and even their bodies.

This program was originally designed only for Stanford’s patient population, but given current world conditions, Dr. Thomas has shared this with us and many of her other friends and colleagues to share with everyone.

We are quite sure that you’ll find this an invaluable resource. Our sincere thanks to Jody for her great work and generosity in sharing it.

  Images used in this newsletter are copyrighted material and used with permission.
Dr. Yapko
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